It was early morning on January 11, 2002 when the first air force C-17 Globemaster cargo plane landed at the Guantanamo United States military base. The 20 passengers were hooded, shackled and dressed in orange jump suits; attended during the lengthy flight from Kandahar by 40 military policemen. It is doubtful any of them had the faintest idea where they had landed - a makeshift prison of tents and cages whose view of the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea had been obscured by plastic sheeting hung along the barbed wire fence.
It is worth recalling how little outrage there was at the time. These men were, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, "the worst of the worst"; a gang of hardened killers and ideological monsters bent on the destruction of western civilisation.
Few voices, either in the US or elsewhere, were initially raised in objection to their imprisonment on a faraway island, although they would come soon enough. At the time there seemed little reason to doubt the US case for holding such hard-core fighters for the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
A decade later, Camp X-Ray, which became Camp Delta, under the authority of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), but known everywhere by the shorthand Guantanamo Bay, is still very much in business.
There are currently around 171 prisoners held at the camp, considerably fewer than the nearly 700 detained at its peak but rather more than the zero promised by President Barack Obama in a campaign pledge to shut the prison.
A demonstration was held in Washington this Wednesday to mark the anniversary. Only a few hundred turned out, led by a group of hooded protesters in orange jump suits, an image that harked back to the photographs of those first captives, even though such practices were abandoned long ago.
Where has the outrage gone? It is true that the legal process to free the remaining prisoners, or at least declare their detention illegal, still grinds through the American courts. In Britain, this week, the government announced that it would not proceed with charges against a number of British intelligence agents accused of torturing suspects at the camp.
As an issue, though, Guantanamo Bay will hardly trouble President Obama as he campaigns for re-election this November. And if he wins a second term at the White House, it will not be at the top of his agenda, or even on the second page. In 2012 there are other priorities.
Questions about the morality, as well as the legality, of Guantanamo Bay began to surface in the first months of 2002. By June, the first writ of habeas corpus had been filed. As the Red Cross and human rights lawyers were given greater access, stories of torture and despair began to emerge. A worrying number of inmates were said to have attempted suicide. Some succeeded.
By the time of the camp's first anniversary, the US military realised it had a major public relations disaster on its hand, even as the Bush presidency reiterated its right to hold the captives indefinitely and without trial.
As part of the propaganda war, the Defence Department began to lay on trips for journalists. I went on one in September 2003; a group of us flown from Miami on an elderly chartered civilian jet. The trip was carefully constructed to give us the impression that Guantanamo Bay was little more than a glorified summer camp.
We were shown low-security inmates enjoying games of football or basketball on courts built around their huts. Prisoners were allowed to serve their own food, on outdoor picnic tables if the weather permitted. The food was so good, a book of recipes was published: lemon-baked fish and orange-glazed chicken. The camp doctor boasted that his charges were putting on weight, the camp dentist that they were acquiring all-American smiles.
Much of this was true, but it was not exactly the truth.
Behind the scenes, Guantanamo Bay was already in crisis. The first military police commander had already been fired for being "too nice" to prisoners. We were not given access to his replacement. Instead, an interview with Guantanamo's Muslim chaplain, James Lee, was offered.
Captain Lee seemed to find the experience deeply uncomfortable, not least when he was asked if he was Sunni or Shia. Barely a week later, Lee was arrested on charges of espionage, with claims that a list of inmates and their interrogators had been found in his possession. Bizarrely, the charges were later downgraded to ones of adultery and storing pornography on a government computer, with Lee eventually being given an honourable discharge.
All of this contributed to the perception that Guantanamo Bay was out of control. Military tribunals were announced, in which the defendants would be given noticeably fewer rights than in American civilian courts. In February 2006, the United Nations called for the closure of the camp; in June, the US Supreme Court ruled by a majority of 5-3 that the military tribunals violated US and international law, and that the inmates were entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention.
Campaigning for the presidency in 2008, Obama was on pretty safe ground in making the closure of Guantanamo Bay a campaign issue. Large numbers of inmates had already been released without charge, many claiming they had been tortured, and the end seemed nigh. Just two days after his inauguration, on January 22, 2009, President Obama signed the order for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, hailing the decision in a major speech to the Arab world in Cairo that June.
Yet three years after signing the prison's death warrant, Guantanamo Bay has reached its 10th birthday and its ultimate closure seems as far distant as ever. The reasons are partly judicial, partly political. Congress has blocked the transfer of prisoners to American soil (the base is leased from Cuba and legally outside the US) and the claim that the ringleaders of the plot to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2010 were former inmates now living in Yemen, means that neither the White House nor Congress is in the mood to set any others free. Almost half the remaining inmates at Guantanamo Bay are Yemeni.
In its 10 years, the prison has processed 775 captives. Under President Bush, 571 of these were eventually released. In the past three years, just 33 have been set free.
For the American voter, concerns over jobs, the housing market and the general state of the economy are the issues for this year's presidential election. The Arab world, inevitably preoccupied with events in Syria, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, no longer believes that this American president will be much better than his predecessor. In any event, neither constituency is thinking much about Guantanamo Bay any more.
Perhaps also, the anger that Guantanamo Bay provoked was more about the politics of the Bush administration. The ferocity of the opposition was directed as much against a right-wing president as it was in the defence of human rights and the principle of no imprisonment without trial. Like the War on Terror, Blackwater, "Mission Accomplished" and the campaign in Iraq, it has been consigned to the history books. That it continues under President Obama is of little concern. Except to those entering their second decade of indefinite internment.
James Langton is a writer and editor for The National and a former foreign correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph and Evening Standard