The House ethics committee moved yesterday to seek testimony and documents from U.S. intelligence agencies and officials for the committee's widening investigation of congressmen who took cash and gifts from the South Korean government.
Among the actions taken by the ethics committee in busy public and secret sessions yesterday were:
Authorization of subpoenas for four government officials, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's top aide, who might have had access to secret National Security Council and National Security Agency intelligence reports naming congressmen who took money from the South Koreans.
Discussion of a tentative agreement for obtaining copies of secret Central Intelligence Agency documents that would give President Carter a veto over making any such information public.
Approval of a questionnaire to be sent to all present and former members of the House who have served since 1970 - more than 700 in all - asking them to list voluntarily any cash or favors they received from five South Koreans.
In a related matter, a House international relations subcommittee investigating broader foreign policy questions about U.S. South Korean relations has scheduled a public hearing for June 22 to take sworn testimony from Kim Hyung Wook, a former director of that Korean CIA.
Kim has been talking to the subcommittee secretly for more than a year. But during the past week, he has made a series of public statements about his knowledge of the South Korean influence-buying campaign on Capitol Hill.
Members of the ethics committee and its staff declined to comment on the subpoenas authorized in a closed session later yesterday.But the committee's apparent aim is to question the four government officials about CIA reports from Seoul and NSA intercepts of South Korean embassy cable traffic that might name members who took improper gifts.
The four officials whose testimony will be sought, The Washington Post has learned, are Lawrence S. Ealgeburger, Brent Scowcroft and Robert G. Hyland all members of the National Security Council staff during the Nixon and Ford administrations, and Juanita M. Moody, former chief intelligence officer at NSA, the super secret agency that monitors international communications.
The ethics committee's interest in their knowledge of intelligence reports of South Korean influence buying apparently was triggered by an article in March by New York Times columnist William Safire.
In that column Safire alleged that Kissinger and CIA Director Richard Helms used political intelligence reports, which named members of Congress who took money from South Koreans, to stop a House investigation that threatened Kissinger and Helms personaly.
Safire described a "back channel" for intelligence reports, which routed political information to the National Security Council in the White House.His column mentioned Hyland and Moody as persons likely ot have seen such reports.
The Times columnist, an aide to former President Nixon, has been an outspoken critic of Kissinger since it was revealed that Safire was among the White House aides wiretapped as part of a leak-plugging program allegedly conducted under Kissinger's direction.
His "back channel" report was denied by all concerned.
Informed sources within the intelligence community have told The Washington Post that Kissinger and his aides at the NSC may have seen some cables describing congressional indiscretions. But it is believed unlikely that explicit traffic describing a pattern of influence-buying would have filtered up to them until 1975, when the current Justice Department investigation of the South Korean lobbying began.
Eagleburger has long been considered Kissinger's closest aide, when Kissinger was both White House national security advisor and Secretary of State. Eagleburger was recently named ambassador to Yugoslavia.
Scowcroft was Kissinger's deputy at the NSC and succeeded him as its director under Gerald Ford.
Hyland, a former CIA official, was Scowcroft's deputy at NSC and is now a key member of the Carter White House foreign policy advisory group.
The ethics committee's proposed agreement for access to CIA documents was greeted with expressions of concern by some members: Rep. Millicent Fenwick (R-N.J.) said she didn't like the suggestion by Philip A. Lacovara, the committee's special counsel, to allow President Carter to make the final determination about public release of any documents made available voluntarily by the CIA.
"There must be some further safeguard of the public interest," she said. "We've learned before that we can't just stop at the executive branch."
A spokesman for the Senate intelligence committee, which now has main oversight responsibility for the CIA, said yesterday that his committee can appeal to the full Senate if a President objects to the public release of classified agency material.
Fenwick and Rep. Bruce Caputo (R-N.Y.) said yesterday they might attempt to modify the proposed "memo of understanding" Lacovara presented.
The questionnaire approved by the committee for mailing to all present and former colleagues asks about gifts and money they were offered by or accepted from several key figures in the South Korean lobbying effort.
They are Tongsun Park, the Washington businessman now living in London who gave cash and gifts to several former and present members; former South Korean ambassador Kim Dong Jo; Suzi Park Thomson, an aide to former House Speaker Carl Albert; Kim Sang Keun, the second-ranking KCIA agent in the South Korean embassy who is now cooperating with federal authorities, and Hancho Kim, a Washington businessman reportedly being groomed as Tongsun Park's replacement as unofficial lobbyist.
It was noted that present and former members would not be forced to answer the questionnaire and the committee would have no way to penalize those who gave incomplete or inaccurate answers.