SPY VS. SPIES
Well,” said Jerry Gruner, “there’s Jamaica.” Sitting there in Gruner’s office at the Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va., CIA officer Janine Brookner knew exactly what the suave chief of the Latin American Division was offering her: Jamaica was the pits, the CIA station from hell. After 20 years as a successful CIA spy, Brookner was battling for a coveted position as a station chief. Only a handful of women have managed to reach that level in the closed, macho club that is the agency’s Directorate of Operations, its clandestine arm. But Jamaica had a notorious reputation as the agency’s dumping ground, a dead-end post for misfits and losers. Brookner knew how bad it was. Reports had filtered back to Langley of wife-swapping, group gropes, heavy drinking and other goings-on at the Jamaica station. Even aside from the low morale and terrible reputation of the Jamaica station, Kingston was one of the most dangerous cities in the world. The CIA’s officers, as well as other American embassy employees, lived in barred, fortress-like houses with 24-hour armed security guards. So Brookner had no illusions about what was being offered. A job as purser on the Titanic. The Jamaica station--and everyone in the CIA knew it--was a disaster. “I’ll take it,” she said.
Janine Brookner did not know it then, but her decision was the start of a Kafkaesque ordeal that would end with her career in tatters and her reputation nearly destroyed. In time, the agency that she had loyally served for 23 years would attempt, like a crocodile, to eat its young. What Brookner says happened to her in the CIA amounts to another black mark for an agency already battered by a multitude of troubles, including the Aldrich Ames spy case, the abrupt resignation of CIA Director R. James Woolsey and scandals in Guatemala and France. But Brookner’s story--as detailed in a lawsuit she brought against the agency and in interviews with participants--casts perhaps the harshest light on the culture of the CIA, on the inner workings of an incompetent bureaucracy run amok and unable or unwilling to admit a horrendous error. The CIA usually does not comment on its activities. The agency declined to make available for interviews any of the officials and officers involved in the Brookner case.
Janine Okun was born into a middle-class family in Syracuse, N.Y. Her mother was a real estate broker, her father the president of a labor union at the Syracuse Post-Standard. Married at 18, she had a son, Steven, while in college, and kept her married name, Brookner, after she was divorced at age 22. She earned a master’s degree in Russian studies at New York University and joined the CIA in 1968. She was sent to the Farm, the agency’s school for spies near Williamsburg, Va., for the usual training in agent recruitment and handling, surveillance, secret writing and other espionage tradecraft.
In 1969, the CIA sent her to the Philippines. “She was amazingly successful,” George Kalaris, her station chief, recalled. “She was one of the best officers I had.”
In Manila she met Colin Thompson, then 35, a fellow case officer with a dry wit who had grown up in New York and gone to Yale. In 1973, Brookner and Thompson were sent to Thailand by the agency. They were married in Bangkok that year and divorced in 1979 but remain close friends.
After a three-year tour in Caracas, Brookner, then in her 40s, was sent to Manhattan. For four years she was chief of the CIA’s United Nations branch, in charge of recruiting Soviet diplomats to spy for the United States.
Brookner was itching to get back overseas and to become a chief of station. Although women are rarely promoted to the agency’s top echelon, Brookner knew that Latin America offered a good shot; it had medium-size stations where she might just have a chance. She returned to headquarters, where, in 1988, Jerry Gruner offered her Jamaica.
Brookner was looking around for a deputy to serve with her in Jamaica, and Gerald P. Hamilton was interested. Then in his late thirties, Hamilton was a personable officer in the Caribbean branch. Because he had a low-key manner, Brookner felt that he would get along well with the Jamaicans. The fact that Hamilton was an African American, Brookner thought, might also be an advantage. She went to Gruner, who approved her choice.
In July of 1989, Brookner arrived in Jamaica for a two-year tour, the first woman ever to be appointed a station chief in Latin America. The CIA station occupied an upper floor of the American embassy in Kingston.
Jamaica was the CIA’s premier listening post in the Caribbean, and Brookner commanded a 20-person station. She had a helicopter--for use against drug traffickers--and a variety of weapons at her disposal. Brookner did not carry a gun, but most of her case officers did, especially if they had to go out at night, when the risk was greatest of being mugged or shot.
Jamaica might, on the surface, sound like a cushy post on an island paradise, but Montego Bay and the resorts and palatial homes--including Goldeneye, where Ian Fleming had lived--are on the north coast, not in crowded Kingston.
“Kingston was a very dangerous city,” said one former embassy employee. She added: “If they come into your house, most likely they will kill you. They will rob you and rape you and then butcher you. There’s a lot of ganja--marijuana. Your house is enclosed by iron grills. You have an alarm system and a safe-haven part of the house--behind bars--nicknamed the rape gate.”
Brookner moved into a comfortable, tropical house with a swimming pool, about 10 minutes from the embassy. She lived alone with her mongrel dog, Shaughnessy, and a goat. The windows were barred, and guards protected her around the clock. From her bedroom she was linked by radio to the CIA station.
The trouble for Brookner began soon enough. At Christmas, she invited a few of her CIA colleagues to join her at dinner with her son, Steven, and his bride of seven months, Frances, who were visiting for the holidays.
Frances was introduced to Bob Emerton, a CIA man. “During dinner he kept pressing his leg next to my leg,” Frances recalled. “I tried to move over, but he kept spreading his legs to nudge me. At least three times his napkin fell. Each time he picked up his napkin, he would caress my leg on the way up.” She demonstrated, slowly caressing her husband’s leg all the way from the ankle to the knee.
“I’m thinking, ‘I’m at my mother-in-law’s house. This is definitely not happening to me.’ Toward the end of the meal, I went into the kitchen for a moment. Emerton followed me into the kitchen. I turned around and he kisses me on the mouth and puts his tongue in my ear. He held my face with his hands so I couldn’t move. I pulled away from him and went back to the dining room.” Shaken, Frances Brookner excused herself and left the dinner party with her husband. In the morning, she apologized to Janine and explained why she had left the table abruptly. The next day, Brookner confronted Emerton--a tall, balding man with glasses--and warned him he had exercised “extremely poor judgment.”
Meanwhile, Brookner was having problems with another case officer, Jayna Hill. In January of 1990, Vice President Dan Quayle visited Jamaica. On the eve of Quayle’s departure, the Secret Service and other security agents traveling with the vice president attended a “wheels up” party at the Wyndham Hotel. The next morning, James Wise, a National Security Agency officer in the Quayle group, accompanied by another NSA officer, called on Brookner to warn her that Hill had been embarrassingly loud and drunk at the party and boasted in public, at the hotel’s outdoor bar, that she worked for the CIA. Brookner verbally reprimanded Hill.
Over the summer, Brookner began to suspect that Hill was neglecting her work--not meeting or paying her agents. Her behavior, Brookner said, had become increasingly “erratic.” According to Brookner, Hill showed up for work at the CIA station one day with her hair uncombed and wearing fluffy pink bedroom slippers.
That did it. Brookner asked CIA headquarters for guidance. Officials there ordered Hill back to Langley for a psychiatric evaluation. Brookner said Hill told another case officer that she planned to retaliate by fabricating stories about Brookner.
There was more. One quiet Sunday afternoon in September of 1990, Brookner was puttering around her house in Kingston when the telephone rang. Lorraine Hamilton was on the line, crying. She was a quiet, shy Bangladeshi woman married to Gerald Hamilton, Brookner’s deputy chief of station.
At 9 the next morning, Brookner was at Lorraine’s house. Her husband had left for work at the embassy. “Gerry choked me,” Lorraine Hamilton said. “We got into an argument and Gerry choked me. He stopped, and then he choked me again until I collapsed.”
Brookner asked if it was the first time. No, Lorraine Hamilton said. He had beaten her a number of times, Brookner says Lorraine Hamilton told her.
She pulled out an apologetic letter that her husband had written to her in 1985. In the letter, he said he had never before “violently struck a woman” and attributed his act to “temporary insanity.”
The station chief had already heard that Hamilton wasn’t at home very much. He “bragged about his nightly exploits” in the island’s saloons, Brookner later said, and regaled his CIA colleagues “by imitating a one-legged stripper he used to go to see at a Kingston bar.”
Brookner returned to the American embassy and called in Hamilton, who, she said, “admitted the abuse.” Brookner picked up her secure telephone line to Langley and alerted headquarters to what had happened.
It might have seemed that matters at the Jamaica station could hardly get any worse, but they did. In March, the security company that protected the houses of the CIA employees complained that Bob Emerton had twice threatened to kill his guards when he found them sleeping on the job.
“Emerton,” Brookner said, “allegedly told the guards and their supervisors that he had a weapon, that he was an ex-Marine and that he had killed men in Vietnam.”
Glen Holden, a wealthy Southern California insurance man and polo player, long active in the state’s Republican politics, was the American ambassador at the time. He remembers the incident all too well. Holden called in Brookner and the embassy’s security officer and demanded that Emerton be given a psychiatric evaluation. “If they can’t say he’s OK,” Holden told Brookner, “I want him out of the country.” After Emerton was seen by a psychiatrist, however, headquarters cabled Brookner that he had promised to behave and would be permitted to return to Kingston.
Brookner also had a confrontation with Jack Spears, the station’s air operations officer. Brookner called Spears in to inform him that he could no longer use one of the station’s Isuzu Troopers, which the CIA employed in counter-narcotics operations, as his personal car. He “flew into a rage,” she said, stomped out of the office and later “threw the Trooper keys on my desk.” Brookner also cracked down on a fifth officer, Tom Meehan, for what she said were excessive expense accounts.
Meanwhile, the Hamiltons’ marriage was breaking up. Lorraine Hamilton had left Jamaica and was living alone in Alexandria, Va. She contacted Ann C. Suhler, a local legal services attorney, and sued Gerald Hamilton for divorce. The CIA immediately threw a “national security” blanket over the case in an attempt to smother it. As a first step, the agency pressured Suhler into signing a secrecy agreement.
Soon afterward, Lorraine Hamilton wrote to then-CIA Director Robert Gates. She enclosed a letter she had written to Ambassador Holden recounting how, in 1990, her husband “choked me twice until I collapsed.”
The CIA was not at all happy to have Lorraine Hamilton’s letters floating around. A month after she wrote to Gates, Judge Donald H. Kent of the Alexandria circuit court issued a highly unusual, draconian gag order forbidding Lorraine Hamilton from contacting the CIA or Ambassador Holden, or from discussing her allegations of spousal abuse with anyone. Lorraine Hamilton had been effectively muzzled. Kent then sealed the entire case, including his gag order.
During the divorce proceedings Gerald Hamilton had been required to describe, in writing, his altercations with his wife. In the September 1990 incident, he related, there had been an argument and a fight; he had “grazed” her with a highchair. Lorraine “dug her fingernails into my throat . . . . I grabbed her in the shoulder/throat pressure point area (not a choke hold) and applied pressure so that she would release her grip. When she finally let go, she started to faint.”
Hamilton added gallantly: “I assisted her descent by guiding her to the floor.”
In the summer of 1991, Brookner’s two-year tour in Jamaica ended, and she returned to Langley to work in the Soviet Division. She was looking forward at last to a promotion that would finally put her in the agency’s top ranks.
Milton Bearden, the chief of the CIA’s Soviet division, held out to Brookner the prospect of the Prague station. In the meantime, he appointed her as deputy group chief for Eastern Europe. Bearden, a veteran CIA operator, had grown up in Texas and wore cowboy boots and a Western belt. He’d run the CIA’s secret war in Afghanistan; when the Soviets pulled out, Bearden became a hero in the agency. And now Brookner was working for Bearden, a top gun. Her future looked bright. But only on the surface. The truth is, Brookner had rocked the boat in a secret agency that much prefers to ignore or cover up problems rather than confront them.
In November of 1991, the inspector general of the Central Intelligence Agency opened an extraordinary secret investigation, not of the misdeeds of the various officers of the CIA’s Jamaica station but of Janine Brookner.
The investigation was conducted by Carter Shannon, a woman who tackled her assignment with zeal. Shannon’s efforts were supervised by A. R. “Rick” Cinquegrana, the chief of investigations, and Bertram D. Dunn, the deputy inspector general. Presiding over the entire effort was Frederick Porter Hitz, the CIA’s inspector general. A graduate of Princeton and Harvard law school and an avid sailor, Hitz was a high-WASP former officer of the CIA’s covert branch. President Bush had named Hitz as the CIA’s first independent inspector general for the agency.
A month after Shannon began the investigation, Brookner was tipped off to it. A friendly woman case officer said that Gerald Hamilton had warned her “not to tie her future to a falling star,” that Brookner was “finished” and was under investigation by the inspector general. It all seemed so preposterous that Brookner did not waste time worrying about the tip.
Soon, however, mysterious things began to happen inside Langley. Early in February of 1992, a new internal telephone directory was published, and Brookner was startled to find that she had been demoted to chief of the Czech branch. But nobody had told her.
The agency was moving quietly to put Brookner out in the cold. Milton Bearden, the Soviet Division chief, said in an affidavit to CIA investigators that he received a call from Bertram Dunn to alert him to the investigation and to warn him against giving Brookner any new jobs. The telephone call was tantamount to hanging a leper’s bell around her neck.
Months went by, but Brookner had not been told officially that she was under investigation. Finally, in May of 1992, Shannon summoned Brookner to her office and broke the bad news.
Brookner was flabbergasted. But she realized what was going on. Aware of the resentment of her in the Jamaica station, she told Dunn she was sure that the allegations were coming from people she had disciplined. Dunn was unmoved, according to Brookner.
In July, Brookner was again shocked when she says she was told by Shannon that she might be facing criminal charges for excessive overtime claims and conversion of government property by improper use of the station’s helicopter for staff picnics.
With her career at stake and criminal charges possibly in the offing, Brookner hired Victoria Toensing, a high-powered, high-profile Washington lawyer, to represent her.
The report of the inspector general was completed in January of 1993. The 17-page report, classified SECRET, was an astonishing and, as it turned out, ludicrous document, but it contained no good news for Brookner. It portrayed her as a falling-down drunk, a seductress and a sexual provocateur, who tried to arouse her male subordinates by wearing “revealing clothing” and asking them to come to her home after hours to do work. “Sometimes she wore brief shorts and a thin T-shirt, with no perceptible underwear,” the report said. “Some of the men refused to be alone in the house with her because they did not want to have to contend with sexual advances they believed she might make [italics added].”
The report listed seven specific occasions when, it claimed, Brookner had been drunk in Jamaica. It went on to say that Brookner had improperly put in for overtime when she cooked and served a turkey dinner for Jamaican contacts on Thanksgiving of 1989. The report also accused her of twice allowing the use of the station’s helicopter for embassy picnics on Lime Key, without reimbursing the CIA for the fuel. Those two charges--the turkey dinner and the helicopter--were referred to the Department of Justice by the CIA for possible criminal prosecution of Brookner. It seemed that the CIA was now trying to put her in jail for cooking a turkey. (The department, amazed at Langley’s foolishness, declined to prosecute.)
With the charges of the inspector general now on the record, the future looked bleak indeed for Brookner. But she had one thing going for her. None of it was true.
Brookner, on Toensing’s advice, decided to sue the CIA under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. Her lawyers began preparing a massive, 104-page complaint, rebutting the CIA’s charges.
In it, Brookner lashed back at the agency’s portrayal of her as a Mata Hari parading around Jamaica in lingerie from Victoria’s Secret. “I dress professionally and conservatively,” she said. “I never lured male subordinates to my home . . . . I have never possessed ‘brief shorts’ and ‘thin T-shirts.’ ” As for her underwear, she added, “my underwear was not ‘perceptible,’ because underwear is not supposed to be seen. If wearing regular shorts off-duty in tropical Jamaica is considered unprofessional conduct, then all employees, male and female, should be subjected to the same charges.”
In answer to the allegations that she was a drunk, Brookner said she was a social drinker only. All of Brookner’s associates, colleagues, friends and family interviewed for this article say that they have never seen her inebriated, and that she drinks, at most, a glass or two of wine on social occasions. “I don’t ever recall her appearing in the slightest bit to have abused alcohol, not in any way,” Ambassador Holden said. (The CIA inspector general’s staff never interviewed the ambassador.)
As for the helicopter, Brookner never attended the two picnics at Lime Key, about 10 minutes by air from Kingston. Before each picnic, however, she told her staff they would have to pay for the fuel, and each time she instructed one of her officers to collect the money.
The CIA’s fuss over the turkey dinner was almost as zany as the charge about “imperceptible underwear.” Brookner spent 10 hours on Thanksgiving Day, 1989, preparing a turkey with all the trimmings and baking a pumpkin-pecan pie for the agency’s main contact in Jamaica, the minister of security, and his two assistants. Brookner, the inspector general solemnly concluded, could charge overtime for the five hours that she served the turkey dinner but not for the 10 hours that it took to prepare it.
By midsummer of 1994, Toensing was ready to sue the CIA. She filed her complaint on July 14, Bastille Day, naming as defendants CIA Director James Woolsey, Hitz, Dunn and the five employees Brookner had either disciplined or confronted in Jamaica. Now it was up to the Justice Department to defend its client, the CIA. That thankless task fell to John A. Rogovin, a 33-year-old attorney in the civil division, and his staff. Rogovin rather quickly realized that he had a loser for a client. The inspector general’s goofy report would not stand up in court. And Toensing was a smart, aggressive, publicity-savvy lawyer who would be sure to embarrass the government over the “imperceptible underwear” and other ridiculous aspects of Hitz’s report. Rogovin shuddered to think what Vicki Toensing would do with that one if the case ever came to trial. He decided to settle.
Hitz was adamantly opposed; he wanted to go to trial. But Woolsey had the final word. He urged the Justice Department to settle. What convinced Woolsey was kept secret and buried deep by the CIA. Woolsey was appalled to discover sarcastic notes about Brookner scribbled in the margins of the inspector general’s documents in the case.
One of the handwritten comments referred to Brookner as “Roseanne.” Since Brookner is trim and petite, the comparison to the actress was not meant as a compliment. Another scribbled note called Brookner “nurse Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde.”
The CIA’s marginal notes were a smoking gun. A lawyer, Woolsey knew that Brookner’s attorneys would make mincemeat of the government case if they ever saw the documents. And the documents, with their damaging marginal notes, would have to be produced in court. The notes alone would virtually prove Brookner’s case: that she had been a victim of discrimination because of her sex.
The government could not afford to reveal the CIA’s nasty little secret. The lawyers for both sides began meeting to try to hammer out an agreement. Meanwhile, Brookner continued to gather ammunition.
One of the charges in the IG report said that at the Secret Service party during Dan Quayle’s visit to Jamaica, “Ms. Brookner was in an inebriated state and had to be helped into her car.” Brookner knew it was a lie; she had reprimanded Jayna Hill for her conduct at the party.
Brookner tracked down James Wise, one of the NSA agents who had complained to her about Hill. He immediately recalled the incident and verified it in writing: “While staying at the local hotel we happened to witness one of your staff conducting herself at the hotel in such a manner as to bring undue attention to herself and her position and job function at the embassy . . . . We were very concerned that this person was under the influence of alcohol and talking too loudly and explicitly about her work. We reported this person’s conduct to you the next day in your office.”
On nov. 10, toensing and her partner, Steven Zelinger, met with Rogovin and two of his staff attorneys. According to Zelinger, one of the Justice Department lawyers had claimed that Janine Brookner had had a sexual relationship with a subordinate. Brookner flatly denied the charge when Toensing asked her about it. Six days later, the lawyers met again.
“Give us the name,” Toensing demanded.
He was not a subordinate after all, the Justice Department lawyer now said. The lawyer added enough detail that Toensing realized they were talking about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s agent on Jamaica.
Zelinger, who took notes, said the lawyer confirmed this.
When Toensing asked: “ ‘You mean the DEA man?’ [the lawyer] said yes.”
The Justice Department lawyer said Brookner had “draped” herself across the man at her Christmas party in 1990. Toensing said the lawyer claimed that Brookner “hit on the DEA agent and massaged his chest” and then told him what she intended to do to him sexually, using words that, the lawyer said, were “not repeatable.”
Toensing located Steve Widener, the DEA man. On Dec. 5, he provided her with an affidavit. At the Christmas party, he said, Brookner did not “massage my chest . . . touch me in any way that was sexually provocative . . . ‘drape’ herself on me . . . say anything to me that was sexually provocative.” Throughout the party, he added, Brookner was never “inebriated or abusing alcohol.” In short, none of it had happened.
The morning after she received the affidavit from Widener, Toensing went to Rogovin’s office with two documents, the affidavit and the letter from the NSA man. Rogovin looked at his watch. “I’m leaving on a plane for London at 6 p.m.,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to settle this case. Let’s do it.”
They broke for lunch, then reconvened and haggled over what the CIA would have to pay Brookner. From a phone in the conference room, Toensing called her client at home. Would $410,000 be OK? Brookner agreed. It was over.
Two days before Christmas of 1994, Brookner, as part of the settlement agreement, resigned from the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA did not apologize to her.
In April of 1995, a federal district court in Alexandria awarded Brookner’s lawyers $265,167.09 in legal fees and costs. In all, Hitz’s folly, and Bert Dunn’s, had cost the CIA almost $700,000.
The agency had obviously hoped that with the substantial damages Brookner had won, she would go away quietly. But Janine Brookner was not done yet. What about the people who had destroyed her career and almost ruined her reputation, and the CIA higher-ups who had permitted it to happen?
On July 13, 1995, Brookner wrote to Atty. Gen. Janet Reno asking that the Justice Department launch a criminal investigation of Hitz, Dunn, Cinquegrana, Shannon, Hamilton, Hill and Emerton for possible perjury. In September, Carl Stern, Reno’s spokesman, declared: “The matter was referred to our criminal division, which is taking appropriate action.” In Oct- ober, the FBI began an investigation.
For Americans infatuated for three decades with “Bond . . . James Bond,” the image of the spy is one of enormous glamour. Agent 007 has a license to kill, an unlimited supply of incredibly beautiful, pneumatic women and enough gadgets to earn the envy of Hammacher Schlemmer.
The inference to be drawn is that spy agencies are equally super-efficient machines run by cool, brilliant professionals. The CIA isn’t like that at all. In many ways, it is much closer to the Department of Agriculture than to Ian Fleming’s lubricious imaginary world--a tired, often-incompetent bureaucracy casting around desperately for new missions to justify its existence in a world without Cold War. Yet the public clings to the more seductive image of the spy world.
Even when the CIA’s Aldrich Ames, who drove his XJ6 Jaguar right into the agency’s parking lot every day, was unmasked as Moscow’s multimillion-dollar mole, the public was stirred, not shaken. CIA Director Woolsey resigned in the wake of the Ames debacle. Then an agent on the CIA payroll was linked to two brutal murders in Guatemala. And it was revealed that KGB double agents fed the CIA information that the agency, in some cases, passed on to the White House without disclosing the tainted source. Finally, the realization began to dawn among ordinary folks that perhaps the CIA was more like Maxwell Smart than James Bond.
The CIA has never admitted that it did anything wrong in the Brookner case. Impaled on his farcical report, Frederick Hitz strongly defended his actions in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee and has never retracted a word.
But Thomas A. Twetten, former head of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, says the Brookner case “became a star chamber process.” Brookner had no choice but to resign, Twetten said. “She was driven to it by [the] inspector general.”
It was clear from Twetten’s extraordinary remarks that the Brookner case had opened a window into a previously concealed battle between the CIA’s spies in the operations directorate and Hitz. And the battle is heating up.
On March 22 of this year, Brookner went public, defying the CIA, to appear on ABC’s “Nightline.” Two former high-ranking clandestine CIA officials, whose faces had never been shown on television, also appeared to defend Brookner and rebuke Hitz. They were Thomas Twetten and Milton Bearden.
Hitz fired back with a 17-page memo to CIA Director John M. Deutch, Wool- sey’s successor, again defending his report and bitterly attacking his critics. But for the first time he conceded that the Justice Department investigation may find “that some aspects of this case could have been handled in a different manner.” Although Hitz stamped the memo “CONFIDENTIAL,” he circulated it widely on the CIA’s computers, a sort of secret Internet.
Publicly, neither the CIA nor Deutch said anything. With a criminal investigation underway, the CIA declined to make any of its officials, including Hitz or the former officers of the Jamaica station, available for interviews. The Justice Department also declined to make available the lawyers who handled the case.
But the tensions between the CIA’s spies and Hitz are simmering just below the surface and could boil over again at any time. And the bungling in the Brookner case is inevitably caught up in the larger issue of the CIA’s future. It is emblematic of the problems that have snowballed at Langley.
Brookner herself suspects that much of what happened to her occurred because she was a woman and, by definition, not a member of the CIA’s old boys’ club. Although she cannot prove it, she believes that there are elements in the CIA who felt she had risen far enough and that it was time to stop her.
Janine Brookner has enrolled in law school in Washington, where she lives. When she graduates about two years from now, she plans to join a public interest organization and represent women who have been the victims of gender discrimination.
Meanwhile, women still working inside the CIA frequently call her to share their own stories of bias and sexual harassment inside the spy agency and to seek her advice. Many--although certainly not all--of her former colleagues regard her as a heroine.
A year ago, 400 women in the Directorate of Operations were awarded $940,000 in settlement of a legal action they had brought charging gender discrimination. Although the women failed to win the written guarantees that they wanted, the settlement, and Brookner’s, has made the agency more sensitive to the problem. Brookner herself is convinced that the atmosphere for women at the CIA is gradually changing.
Until jamaica and its aftermath, Brookner enjoyed her career at the CIA. Sometimes she misses the camaraderie and excitement of her years as a spy--the sense of mission. But she’s had no difficulty adjusting to life outside Langley.
Brookner is not bitter, but she is resolutely continuing to seek justice. She is determined that what happened to her will never again befall other women at the agency.
“I feel free,” she recently told a friend. “I feel focused on a new mission--helping other women. Although I wouldn’t have asked for it to happen, it’s made my life better.”