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NORAD's Santa mission takes flak

| Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 5:42 p.m.
FILE - In this Dec. 24, 2012 file photo, Lizzie Solano, center, and her sister Sarah take phone calls from children asking where Santa is and when he will deliver presents to their house, during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation, at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, at Peterson Air Force Base, in Colorado Springs, Colo. The U.S. and Canadian military will entertain millions of kids again this Christmas Eve with second-by-second updates on Santa’s global whereabouts. But there’s something new this year: public criticism. A children's advocacy group says an animated video on the NORAD Tracks Santa website injects militarism into Christmas by showing fighter jets escorting Santa's sleigh. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

DENVER — The U.S. and Canadian military will entertain millions of kids again this Christmas Eve with second-by-second updates on Santa's global whereabouts. But there's something new this year: public criticism.

A children's advocacy group says an animated video on the NORAD Tracks Santa website injects militarism into Christmas by showing fighter jets escorting Santa's sleigh. It's a rare swipe at the popular program, which last year attracted a record 22.3 million unique visitors from around the world to its website.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command defends the video as nonthreatening and safe for kids.

The kerfuffle erupted two weeks ago over a 39-second video on noradsanta.org called “NORAD Tracks Santa Trailer Video 2013.”

A 5-second segment of the video — which is also available on youtube.com — shows two fighter jets flanking Santa.

The Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood said the video brings violence and militarism to a beloved tradition. Blogs and Twitter lit up with volleys from both sides.

Josh Golin, the coalition's associate director, reiterated his criticism but called the brouhaha “a media-manufactured controversy.” The coalition didn't know about the fighter jet video until reporters called, he said.

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