Slow in coming, far too late, but a small victory for our system of justice and the Constitution in Bush’s America:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Monday overturned a U.S. military tribunal’s enemy combatant designation for a Chinese Muslim at the Guantanamo Bay prison, its first ruling that gives a detainee a chance for release.

It ordered the U.S government to release or transfer Huzaifa Parhat, a member of the Uighur ethnic group, or to “expeditiously” hold a new military tribunal for him.

Parhat, who was captured in Afghanistan and who has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for six years, is one of several Uighurs still at the prison. […]

The court also said Parhat can seek his immediate release before a U.S. District judge under the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling this month that the detainees have the legal right to challenge their years-long confinement.

A key issue in the Parhat case was whether he had been involved in any activity that would justify designating him as an enemy combatant.

The government argued that Parhat was trained by a group called the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and that it has links to al Qaeda. That was enough to hold him, it said.

Parhat’s lawyers said he considered China, not the United States, the enemy, and that there was no evidence that he ever joined the group.

Finally, a court willing to say even the President needs evidence of some wrong doing before he can damn someone to the indefinite hell of detention at Guantanamo Bay. Let’s hope it is the beginning of the end for that foul stain on our Constitution and for the ludicrous theory that a President has the equivalent authority of the Divine Right of Kings, a theory supposedly discarded forever by America’s founding Fathers over 200 years ago.

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