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DENVER -- The U.S. and Canadian military's beloved Santa Tracker is facing 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 Christmas Eve program that gives second-by-second updates on Santa's global whereabouts.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command defends the video as non-threatening and safe for kids. The kerfuffle erupted two weeks ago when the 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. NORAD says it's a "media-manufactured controversy." Officials say they didn't know about the video until reporters called.