Janine attended Syracuse University before transferring to Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y. She graduated in 1964. Four years later, she earned a master’s degree in Russian studies from New York University, where a professor suggested that she apply for work at the C.I.A.
“I knew I wanted an adventurous life,” she told The Washington Post in 2004. “And I got it.”
She joined the agency’s training program in 1968, one of six woman in a class of more than 60. Although her instructors urged her to take a job as an analyst, she insisted on becoming a case officer, she said in an interview with The Post-Standard in 1998. In March 1969 she was sent to Manila, a single woman (she had divorced her first husband, Howard Brookner) with a 6-year-old son in tow.
“People think it’s really hard to live a double life, but it became very natural,” she told The Post-Standard. “After living undercover for 25 years, I found it very hard to tell people what I really did. To tell people I worked for the C.I.A., that was traumatic.”
After her stint in the Philippines ended in 1972, she was posted to Thailand (where she married Colin Thompson, also a C.I.A. officer), Venezuela, the United Nations and Jamaica.
While at the U.N. in the 1980s, she told her superiors that she believed another C.I.A. officer, Aldrich Ames, was a security risk who had been speaking recklessly about clandestine operations while on temporary assignment and taking his girlfriend to a C.I.A. safe house in Manhattan. Her warning was not heeded, and Mr. Ames, who began spying for the Soviet Union in 1985, pleaded guilty to espionage and tax evasion in 1994.
Ms. Brookner graduated from law school in 1998 and began working from home, handling cases involving sex discrimination at the C.I.A. and defending whistle-blowers. She drew clients from the State Department, the Department of Agriculture and the Agency for Industrial Development.
“She called it employment law — people with problems in the government,” said Mr. Thompson, from whom she was divorced but with whom she remained friendly.