The House Committee yesterday voted to create a permanent select committee on intelligence to focus House oversight of the Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence community. At the same time, it voted to restrict the access House members have to information about intelligence activities.
The committee also voted to send to the floor a bill to allow voters to register on election day. The Carter administration had made the bill a No. 1 priority in its election package but the measure has been stalled for two months because of lack of votes. Leadership sources said the bill was now being moved "because the administration thinks they have the votes to pass it." If a check shows the votes are there, the bill is scheduled for a floor vote next week.
The intelligence committee is being formed at the request of President Carter and CIA Director Stansfield Turner, who were concerned about the access to intelligence information in the House.
Currently seven subcommittee have jurisdiction over one intelligence agency or another. Beyond that, the House has a rule that says that any House member must be allowed to see any committee's records or material. The only exception to the rule is the ethics committee, which collects financial data on members and investigates charges of misconduct.
It was because of such a rule that Rep. Michael Harrington (D-Mass.), was able to look to Armed Services Committee records on the overthrow of the late president Salyador Allende in Chile and American involvement which eventually led to the information being leaked to the press.
But the new 13-member intelligence committee, while not exempted from the rule, is permitted to make information available "under such regulations as the committee shall prescribe."
Rep. Richard Bolling (D-Mo.), said its clearance and committee could that could include any kind of secur-devise or it might simply make the material available on a "need to know" basis.
Many members of the Rules Committee and those testifying wanted to restrict access even more.
But Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.), said, "The danger is there will be [WORD ILLEGIBLE] secrecy." Aspin said there was some irony in the fact that CIA excesses kept secret for years were leading the House to shut off access to information on intelligence members formerly had. But he said he supported the move as a necessary trade off to into one committee.
Rep. Sam Stratton (D-N.Y.), complained that both the Armed Services Committee on which he serves and the International Relations Committee will lose jurisdiction over the CIA. But he said few of his colleagues shared his concern.
"This is a real can of worms,"he said. But he added the new committee was being pushed by the leadership and "this is a case of people not wanting to challenge the leadership."
Rules Committee member B. F. Sisk (D-Calif.), also complained on Tuesdat when the matter came up that he had not seen the measure creating that new committee and that the "leadership is ramming it through." But after what was described as an "educational seminar" by Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'NeilL Jr. (D-Mass.), Sisk and all other doubting Democrats voted for the measure yesterday, 10 to 5, with the five Republicans voting against.
Republicans, plus Sisk, also voted unanimously against the same-day voter registration bill which they chardged was open to widespread fraud. Two Republicans Reps. Steve Symms (Ida.), and Robert Dornan (Calif.), obtained seen phony identification cards which they contend could be used to register fraudulently and vote.
House Administration Committee Chairman Frank Thompson (D-N.J.), was quoted by United Press Internation as calling the two "goddamn lying sons of bitches" and Thompson told the Rules Committee each state could set the standards for identification and there would be penalties for falsifying IDS.
Rep. Del Latta (R-Ohio), said a voter could take a real ID and go from precint to precint and vote. He also speculated that persons who don't vote because it too much trouble to register would not take the trouble to get the necessary identification.