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FORT HOOD, Texas Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, represented himself as jury selection began at his murder trial Tuesday.

Hasan, 42, had wanted to base his defense on the idea that he was protecting Taliban from American soldiers. Judge Tara Osborn denied the motion, but did let Hasan represent himself.

Hasan requested and received two military lawyers sitting nearby for legal guidance.

The Army psychiatrist is facing execution or life without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

Twenty officers ranked major and above appeared for questioning as potential jurors in the trial. Hasan wanted them to know he is wearing an Army combat uniform under protest.

"I can't take any pride in this uniform," he told the judge. "It represents the enemy of Islam."

Judge Osborn instructed potential jurors to ignore Hasan's long beard, which is against Army regulations.

The trial is taking place in a courthouse at Fort Hood that is bunkered up to the rooftop, and surrounded by blast barriers. Security is extremely tight.

The post closed down the gate closest to the courthouse.

Despite the nature of the crime and all the publicity, the potential jurors all said they could judge Major Hasan fairly based only on evidence presented during the court martial.

The Army put nearly 150 officers on standby for jury duty. Six potential jurors were dismissed late Tuesday afternoon; some of them knew victims of the 2009 massacre.

Jury selection is expected to take several weeks. Judge Osborn said she hopes to seat a panel by early August and warned the trial could last for several months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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