Post 2 and I must be thinking of different cases. The case of this sort that I am aware of (see link)
has to do not with searches but with whether Soussi violated US sanctions against Libya when he bought 50 trailers and tried to send them to Libya. He said that he was only guilty of attempting to send them (because they never got there) and that the law setting up the sanctions didn't ban attempts.
Obviously, his argument wasn't good enough because the 10th Circuit rejected it and affirmed his conviction. The law bans exporting to Libya and it also bans any transactions which are meant to evade the ban. To me, that includes transactions that try to evade the ban, even if they fail.
So I don't think Soussi had much of an argument.