Navy Cryptographic Technician Murders Roommate

The North Coast Curmudgeon spent 1965-1969 in the Naval Security Group. I’m still bound by a life-long security agreement that prevents me from discussing exactly what I did during those years. We held very high special security clearances and were held to a standard far above the typical sailor.

CTs bunked together, and didn’t pull any extra duties like other sailors. In fact, some would say we really weren’t in the Navy at all.

In my day, we were called, “Communication Technicians.”

We were not supposed to discuss anything related to codes and ciphers and were to report any incident of anyone who tried to engage us in any such conversation. I recall we were even forbidden to purchase and comment on the book, The Code Breakers.

If we failed to report any situation where we noticed one of our shipmates talking about such topics in inappropriate places, and it was discovered that we witnessed such a security breach, our clearance could be pulled.

Excessive drinking, drug use, excessive debt, relationships with non-citizen girlfriends, homosexual activity – all these things would get you kicked out of the NSG in the 1960’s.

If a CT had to go the dentist and have sodium pentothal, a specially cleared officer accompanied the CT in case something was said while under the pentothal.

They were very serious about this stuff. Our security clearances were reviewed every few years.

So it is with great shock and amazement that I read about Cryptologic Technician 2nd Class Jarred Swartzmiller who apparently has confessed to beating his roommate, CTT3 Laura Anne Skinner to death. Published stories relate that Swartzmiller was drinking and snorting Percocet, and was living in an apartment with two female CTs.

Exactly what kind of backgrounds are they now doing for these highly classified Navy positions? What kind of checks are being made on living arrangements? What is being done about drug tests?

I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess there are far fewer CTs in the Navy than when I was in, so they should be able to keep even a closer watch on these folks than when I was in during the Vietnam War.

Does this seem like the way we ought be running one of our more sensitive military operations?


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