Tim Burke, as usual, writes in circles around everybody else.
I'm not quite sure what he means by the "serenade of Nero's violin," but the point he makes is crucial: people have to be held accountable for abuses of power. If no one in the administration is going to apply any weight to the claim of accountability (i.e., by losing their job), then we as voters have to do it for them.
If we refuse to do it, the country is starting to follow the path the Caesars set for ancient Rome. If that happens all of these books the 'American Empire' will cease to be merely metaphorical, as we will literally have an emperor. (Of course, if that really happens then our current moral crisis will seem paltry)
[The last paragraph was fixed, and then updated slightly]