Just when we need it — a blow for liberty!

Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, George Bush has acted as if he’s above the law — tapping phones without a court order, prying into credit card records without a search warrant, torturing prisoners of war — and, most egregiously, rounding up suspects and detaining them for years without charging them with any crime or putting them on trial.

Finally, a federal court has said: Enough’s enough.

Ali al-Marri was arrested three months after Sept. 11. Suspected of being a sleeper agent for al Qaeda, he was declared an “enemy combatant” and, for the last four years, held at the Navy Brig in Charleston, S.C. — with no charges filed against him, no right to see a lawyer and no opportunity to defend himself in a court of law.

Yesterday a conservative federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled that the Bush administration was holding al-Marri illegally. If the government had evidence he was helping al Qaeda, it had to prove it in court. Otherwise, it had to let him go. By keeping al-Marri indefinitely, without a trial, said the court, George Bush was violating his constitutional authority.

God bless America! What an important decision for all Americans. Because if George Bush can do that to Ali al-Marri, he can do it to you or me.

Even in these days of King George, isn’t it nice to know somebody’s keeping an eye on the Constitution?