Now, this part is the snippet that makes me wonder:
Conyers: I didn't ask you if you ever gave him advice. I asked you thought the President could order a suspect buried alive.
Yoo: Well Chairman, my view right now is that I don't think a President . . . no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.
Not any? What if the American president in question was a psycopath? What if he didn't really need to order a suspect buried alive, but just kind of wanted to? There's a war on, after all. People get ideas. Coffins are ordered. And once sleep deprivation and water-boarding have failed to produce any information, what really stops someone who is already in a hole from getting dirt thrown on top of him?
But look at the assumption in that answer: Presidents, real American Presidents, would do the right thing. That's why they have the privileges they do. Forget all that business about absolute power corrupting absolutely, or the grim history of mankind with respect to doing rotten things to our fellow humans. What makes the President different? Why, he's, uh, American? And um, the President. So he wouldn't "feel it necessary."
But you know, that isn't the same thing as saying that the President couldn't order it. And that's what Conyers was looking for. And it doesn't seem like Yoo found that answer easy to say.