President Trump has nominated Gina Haspel, a CIA deputy director who has been directly implicated in a brutal CIA torture program, to be CIA director, and the question here in Maine is whether Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King will vote to confirm a nominee directly connected to widespread torture. Will Susan Collins bestow her much-vaunted seal of moderation on Gina Haspel's nomination?

Regardless of one's feelings about the morality of torture, and regardless of President Trump's assertions to the contrary, torture doesn't work. As has been demonstrated over and over, the tortured, in the desperate hope of ending their torture, will say whatever they think their torturer wants to hear. Thus the "information" given by the tortured is useless — or worse.

In fact, it can be much worse. The false information given by torture victims can lead to disaster.

In a 2015 Los Angeles Times op-ed, David Abramowitz, chief Democratic counsel to the House Foreign Affairs Committee from 1999 to 2009, tells of a Foreign Affairs Committee briefing by the intelligence community that took place in 2002, in the lead-up to the war in Iraq. The committee was told that Iraq was providing chemical and biological weapons training to Al Qaeda, and the only source for this was one Ibn al-Shayk al-Libi, who had been captured by the U.S. and shipped to Egypt, a notorious torture state.

This "information," presumably extracted under torture and now known to be false, was key in the Bush administration selling of the Iraq War, a war that has killed at least 4,487 American soldiers and wounded at least 32,226 more, not counting widespread post-traumatic stress syndrome. Estimates of Iraqis killed run to 600,000 and more. And the war still isn't over. Though they've been shoved to the back pages, there are still American troops in Iraq — and they're still dying. This massive disaster and misery is in large part the result of "information" obtained through torture.

Further, our adversaries use our use of torture as justification for attacks on this country and for torturing Americans, be they soldiers, diplomats or private citizens.

Clearly our use of torture doesn't make us safer, as is claimed. It makes us less safe.

In 2002, Gina Haspel ran a CIA "black site" in Thailand where prisoners were savagely tortured. In Haspel's black site, one prisoner endured 83 near-death waterboardings.

In 1994, fully eight years before Haspel’s management of her black site torture dungeon, the U.S. ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture, and like it or not, under U.S. law, international treaties supersede U.S. law — and by extension any Bush-era Justice Department findings that give the CIA carte blanche to savage its kidnapped prisoners.

In her black site, Haspel also destroyed videotapes of her black site's torture sessions, thus destroying what is evidence under U.S. law. And destruction of evidence is a crime. Thus Haspel should be arrested and tried, not promoted to higher office.

Black sites were CIA gulags around the world where "terror suspects" were tortured without even being charged with a crime and without the knowledge, let alone oversight, of any civilian or even military court. Suspects were kidnapped off streets around the world. Most famous of these kidnappings was that of Abu Omar, a husband and father of two, who was snatched off the streets of Italy, a U.S. ally, in 2003.

John Kiriakou was a CIA analyst and case officer for 14 years and knew Haspel personally, and Jeremy Scahill is a journalist and best-selling author who has written extensively on CIA black sites. Both Kirikou and Scahill have suggested that Haspel knew that torture didn't work. "Everyone knew torture didn't work," Kiriakou told Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now on March 14. Kiriakou told Democracy Now that he and other CIA personnel called Haspel "Bloody Gina," and Kiriakou went on to say that no less than 50 women are as qualified as Haspel to be CIA director. Both Scahill and Kiriakou have suggested that Haspel's use of torture was gratuitous, that it was done for its own sake, and that Haspel took personal pleasure in it. In other words, Kiriakou and Scahill have suggested that Haspel is a sadist.

Haspel might not even be able to do her job effectively. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin is seeking an arrest warrant for Haspel that would make her unable to travel to Europe without risking arrest. And this is not far-fetched. Twenty-two known or suspected CIA agents were convicted in absentia by an Italian court in 2009 for the Abu Omar kidnapping. Rome CIA station chief Jeffrey Castelli was sentenced to seven years in prison. Sabrina De Sousa, a U.S. consular official, was sentenced to five years in prison, and as recently as 2015 was arrested in the Lisbon airport and extradited to Italy. Clearly Italy and Portugal, both members of the European Union, take this seriously.

In a statement on the Haspel nomination, Sen. King said he will base his vote on whether Haspel's service would be in the best interests of Maine and the nation. Clearly it would not.

And the question for us here in Maine is whether we want Sens. Collins and King to vote for this abomination and this affront to humanity and human dignity. Do we want to debase our society and make ourselves less safe by this sanctioning of the inhumane practice of torture? Do we want our voices in Washington to vote for Bloody Gina?

Angus King: (202) 224-5344.  Susan Collins: (202) 224-2523.

Lawrence Reichard is a first-place Maine Press Association winner, freelance writer and activist living in Belfast.