I've read the official stuff from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism and such.
Don't want the outrageous "whispers". Door #2, "our whispers".

Grampa Bill whispers:
They were/are real. Special Operations group for the Council of the Fifty. Co50 is another shadowy organization. Set up by Joseph Smith, their mission is seldom really clear, If you read the minutes and comments of its members, there seems to be confusion. Some even thought the Fifty was to take the lead of the Church after JS's martyrdom. Almost childish ramblings and jockeying for position. Last meeting in late 1800s after which it dissolved. I don't believe a word of it.
Co50 was undeniably real. JS spent much time and effort establishing it (and JS didn't waste his time). Purpose is less clear but seems that even as the Church is to prepare the world spiritually for Christ's return, the Co50 was/is to prepare the world politically and economically. I believe that it became expedient to do this in a very quiet discreet manner and so the group mocked itself and publicly dissolved while continuing its work unseen by the world. I suspecct that a great deal of the world's wealth and resources are controlled today by the Co50 awaiting the time to publicly turn it over to the Lord and His prophet.
If the Co50 was what it appeared to be, s group of buffoons who sqabbled and fought until it fell apart, then JS spent a lot of time and energy on what became a total failure. Can't believe that. Was real/is real.
Back to Danites or Avenging Angels. I believe they did/do what had/has to be done. That does NOT mean midnight visits to everybody whose testimony was/is weak or who was reluctant to allow his daughter become a plural wife of one of the Bretheren. Did/do they have a "license to kill?" Probably, but used EXTREMELY infrequently, and only when the necessity approached/s that of Nephi wasting Laban.
Today, I 'spect there is some shifting back and forth between Church Security and the Danites with Church Security providing a training ground and a ripe field for recruitment of Danite operatives.
All of the above is probably merely the fevered ravings of a somewhat delusional old man. Only the Danites themselves (if they exist), the First Presidency, the Fifty, and the Executive Committee (the three with the most seniority) of the Twelve are likely to know for certain.
Love y'all,
Grampa Bill in Savannah

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