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Foreign Service Group Opposes Rooney Pick

In light of today's announcement by President Obama that he's naming Steelers owner Dan Rooney to be US Ambassador to Ireland, I queried John Naland, President of the American Foreign Service Association about the practice.

AFSA is the professional association of the US Foreign Service and has 14,000 dues paying members.

Naland didn't comment on Rooney's nomination in particular, but stated his group's opposition to what Obama did on principle.

He responded in an e-mail today from Kuwait, which he's passing through after a ten day temporary assignment in Iraq.

"AFSA's position is that overseas diplomatic missions should almost always be headed by career Foreign Service members," Naland said.

"While some non-career ambassadors have served our nation well in the past, many more political ambassadors have lacked the skills and experience needed to properly represent our nation," he added.

"For that reason, AFSA supports ending the decades-old spoils system under which political activists are tapped for critical national security positions for which they are unqualified," said Naland.

"That is AFSA's general position," he continued. "We do not typically comment on the qualifications, or lack thereof, of specific nominees."

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.
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